Readers who are acquainted with me are probably aware that I have been involved in research on "tip of the tongue" states (research article in PDF format)
. So it's especially interesting to me that I have been experiencing a fairly long-running "TOT" which has eluded me despite daily attention. Rather than look up this word from the numerous details I have (it's just a simple Google away at this point), I thought I would attempt to resolve it using only my own memory (so please don't reveal his name in the "comments")
The word in question is the name of a (deceased) British entertainer, best known for the song "When I'm Cleaning Windows" (and numerous revised versions) and his use of the "banjulele" or "banjolin" which looks like a small banjo and is played by frantic strumming (ordinarily I would include a link here but I'm afraid searching for a URL might inadvertently reveal the answer). In fact this artist seems to be the UK's best-known banjo player (at least to many people). His name was frequently called out by some of the surly, drunken locals at the Golden Lion (previous site of Come Down and Meet the Folks
), most often when a musician was playing a downbeat, moody, dark or generally unhappy song.
I can pinpoint the start of this TOT: the evening of Wednesday 23 March, in a discussion with Opal Hush
. We were talking about the upcoming UK tour of Curtis Eller
("New York City's angriest yodelling banjo player"). On a previous visit, Mr Eller expressed some confusion about this artist ("why do people keep asking me if I know any of his songs"), and we were wondering whether his repertoire might include a song by this artist this time around (It makes sense; Mr Eller's lyrical content, musical style and general manner would fit well with the time-frame of this artist, ie, pre-WWII).
As of today's date (nearly two weeks later) I have still not come up with this artist's name despite having its absence come to mind at least daily since that time. Perhaps uncharacteristically for TOT experiences, I have almost no intuition about the form of his name: not the first letter, not the kind of name, nothing. I have a vague feeling that his first and last names both have two syllables, that his first name is old-fashioned and his last name is very English, but none of those are much of a stretch.
I will update this entry again as the TOT develops (or ideally is resolved). If you make any comments before I've posted a resolution, please do not reveal this artist's name, nor give any clues about how his name sounds (no letter clues, no sounds like clues). Biographical or historical information is welcome, however.